DBEA55AED16C0C92252A6554BC1553B2 DBEA55AED16C0C92252A6554BC1553B2 Clicky
November 30, 2023
Care to share?

News:

Cathay Pacific and United Airlines will begin testing a digital health pass for travelers to certify and document their COVID-19 status while keeping health data private. The system, called Common Pass, is being developed and backed by the Commons Project Foundation, with initial funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, and the World Economic Forum, the latter being the group of global leaders that gather each year in Davos.

The system fills a void to provide a universal framework for safer international travel by documenting the COVID-19 status in a universal way. Today, results are primarily on paper, photos or screenshots, or a variety of systems in various languages around the world. Common Pass will provide a standard format for both entry requirements and certification that those requirements are met.

Countries will be able to post their entry requirements in a common framework, making it easier for travelers to understand their requirements. Common pass will interpret those requirements, check it against testing or medical data, and provide a green or red answer as to whether those requirements are met, as well as providing the data to customs and immigration authorities around the world in a uniform format.

Analysis:

With no easy ability to trust COVID-19 test results, and at some point in the future vaccination records, governments may extend travel bans and quarantines, even for people who have tested negative or have immunity. Having a mobile phone app to which certified test results can be uploaded may be a key element in reopening borders and routes, by land or air.

The group developing the program is a Swiss-based non-profit, with representation from 37 countries on six continents. The goal of the trials with United and Cathay Pacific is to replicate the full traveler experience of taking a COVID-19 test prior to departure, uploading the result to their phone, and demonstrating compliance with entry requirements at departure and destination airports.

Of course, bringing a new system like this on-board globally and interfacing with a tremendous number of medical systems around the world will be a difficult task. We suspect that there will be some additional work required to make more widespread as testing from various sources outside of the initial airport testing services is integrated into the program in the future. But with a framework in place, connecting to various medical records should become seamless in the future.

The key questions Common Pass will answer include:
• Whether the lab or vaccination facility is accredited or certified
• The type of lab test or vaccination, date, and result
• Verifying that it was for the same person traveling, and
• That the entry criteria for the country are met.

Elements of the international framework include:
• A registry of accredited/certified sites
• A common model for accessing test data using global health data interoperability standards
• Linking test records to travel ID securely with privacy
• A framework for countries to publish health screening entry requirements
• A rules engine to determine compliance
• Tools to embed the framework in 3rd party apps and systems

The system itself is quite straightforward. It produces a QR code that can be read by customs or health authorities when gaining admission to a country, and quickly determine a passenger’s COVID-19 status, with a green light or red light assessment against requirements prior to boarding, as shown in the following diagram from Common Pass:

Insight:

It appears that COVID-19 is not departing at the end of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, with case numbers continuing to grow. Fatalities are fortunately falling, but the virus has not gone away and remains a major problem for international travel. This system is essentially a modern version of the yellow health cards we used to carry with our passports half a century ago to document vaccination histories, updated to today’s computerized age with better accuracy and pre-departure checking to ensure no issues on arrival.   While all of us would rather see this disease go away quickly, it hasn’t happened yet.

Two things are holding back international travel today. The first is fear of COVID-19, which will take some time for passengers to overcome. The second is a patchwork quilt of international restrictions, quarantine requirements, and the like.

A system like Common Pass will eliminate confusion and make travel simpler for passengers, including the confidence that everyone else on the airplane has been tested and shown to be negative. That should help ease concerns about contact with exposed passengers, and help governments be confident to re-open international flying without quarantine restrictions.

The key to future international travel maybe not losing your cell phone, as it will become key to your airport experience.  With boarding passes and health information already on the phone, is a digital passport too far down the road?

Cathay Pacific and United Airlines will begin testing a digital health pass for travelers to certify and document their COVID-19 status while keeping health data private. The system, called Common Pass, is being developed and backed by the Commons Project Foundation, with initial funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, and the World Economic Forum, the latter being the group of global leaders that gather each year in Davos.

The system fills a void to provide a universal framework for safer international travel by documenting the COVID-19 status in a universal way. Today, results are primarily on paper, photos or screen shots, or a variety of systems in various languages around the world. Common Pass will provide a standard format for both entry requirements and certification that those requirements are met.

Countries will be able to post their entry requirements in a common framework, making it easier for travelers to understand their requirements. Common pass will interpret those requirements, check it against testing or medical data, and provide a green or red answer as to whether those requirements are met, as well as providing the data to customs and immigration authorities around the world in a uniform format.


Subscriber content – Sign in Monthly Subscription   Annual Subscription